The Atlanta Silverbacks lost 1-0 to the league-leading Portland Timbers tonight at RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium. The loss takes the Silverbacks’ record to 7-7-4 for the USL First Division.
The uneventful first half saw just six total shots on goal. Both teams worked the ball through the middle of the field but neither defense was willing to give up the first goal. The only real play of note came in the last few minutes of the half – Tony McManus and Portland's goalkeeper Josh Wicks came down injured after going up for a ball together in front of the Portland goal. Wicks remained down for several minutes after the play; he finished the half, but his return was questionable.
Portland started the second half with one major substitution, Bayard Elfvin stood in the net for Wicks. Until tonight, Elfvin had yet to see the field while Wicks had played in all 15 matches for Portland, allowing just nine goals. The Silverbacks wasted no time testing Elfvin and put solid pressure on Portland for the first ten minutes of the half. Despite some close calls for the ‘Backs, it was the Timbers who got on the board first in the 65th minute off a quick counter attack. David Hague brought the ball across the mid-stripe into the ‘Backs half and fired a long-range shot, Ryan McIntosh got to the ball but could not hold on to it and Chris Bagley finished the rebound.
Silverbacks’ fans saw a new face enter the match before the restart after the goal when Anthony Wolfe entered the match for Atlanta. The Silverbacks announced Wolfe, a member of the Trinidad & Tobago National Team, has signed a two-year contract that will keep him in the Silverbacks’ red and black through the 2008 season. The 23-year-old forward has five national team caps for his country and was a member of Trinidad & Tobago’s 23-man squad for the 2006 World Cup. Prior to playing on the world’s largest soccer stage, Wolfe played professionally in the Trinidad & Tobago Professional Football League. In 2006, he competed for San Juan Jabloteh where he finished as the team’s leading goalscorer with 17 goals.
Atlanta continued to pressure Portland after the goal and dominated the possession while pounding the Timbers’ defense. Portland had a few chances on counterattacks but the ‘Backs had control for the rest of the half. The league’s best defense got the better of Atlanta’s chances and came out on top with the 1-0 shutout, their ninth shutout of the season.
The Silverbacks will play again on Thursday evening in a rematch with the Timbers in Portland. They will return home on Saturday, July 28th against Cruz Azul, the legendary Mexican First Division team, in the Silverbacks’ first-ever Copa Amistad TM [Friendship Cup]. For ticket information call 404-969-4900 or visit www.atlantasilverbacks.com.
Atlanta’s starters: Ryan McIntosh, Justin Moore (Angel Rivillo - 72), David Hayes, Matt Bobo, Martyn Lancaster, Scott Buete, Rodrigo Rios, Tony McManus, Rafique Hassim (Dayton O’Brien – 79), Daniel Antoniuk, Warren Ukah (Anthony Wolfe – 66).
Cautions: McManus - 73
Portland’s starters: Josh Wicks (Bayard Elfvin – 45), Justin Thompson, Cameron Knowles, Shaun Higgins (David Hague – 63), Tom Poltl, Kiki Lara, Leonard Griffin, Lawrence Olum (Neil Dombrowski – 71), Scot Thompson, Bryan Jordan, Chris Bagley (Lee Morrison – 75).
Goals: Bagley – 65 (Hague)
Cautions: S. Thompson – 43; Olum – 62; Poltl - 85
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